As governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, President-elect Barack Obama's choice for homeland security secretary, pledged that her state would not cooperate with a major domestic security initiative, the Real ID drivers' license program. The program, which she would direct if confirmed as secretary, imposes stringent requirements on states for confirming the identity and legal residency of people who want drivers' licenses. Napolitano said the law would impose huge costs on the states without reimbursement from Washington.
In June, she signed into law a bill that forbids Arizona from cooperating with the federal requirements. The state law had no immediate effect, because Arizona already had a federal waiver allowing it to delay enactment until 2009. Last year, as the chairwoman of the National Governors Association, Napolitano testified before a Senate committee that the program would cost the states $11 billion. Since then, Congress has appropriated $100 million to meet some of the costs. Real ID follows the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission; it was passed without hearings or debate, attached to a mostly unrelated bill. The federal government has said that people carrying drivers' licenses that do not comply with its requirements will not be allowed into federal buildings and will have difficulty boarding planes. The American Civil Liberties Union and some state legislators say that the program amounts to a national identification card, with civil liberties and privacy implications.